Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:10-11
In the Hebrew culture, one's name was much more than a mere title. It was descriptive and representative of the one who bore it. It was as an expression or revelation of one's person and character. The same is true with God. His names are a revelation of His true being and person and also show how He works. One of His names is "Jehovah Raah," which is translated in Psalm 23:1 as "the Lord is my shepherd."
It meant much to Israel when it was said that their God was their shepherd. To them a shepherd was one who gave his life for the sheep and to the sheep. Thus He is represented as a caring God in Isaiah 40:10-11, "Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." The word shepherd is translated from the Hebrew word "Raah." Jesus is the Great Shepherd (Raah), the Chief Shepherd, and the Good Shepherd. "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) This is not talking about a hireling but a shepherd, one who lived with the sheep, led the sheep, and was willing to give His life for the sheep. This is the Lord Jesus, our Jehovah Raah.
The Shepherd does five things for His sheep.
1. He Gathers.
"...He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom..." (Isa. 40:11) This refers to salvation as being the Lord's work. He, in His foreknowledge, knows His sheep even though they are not yet in the fold. In Mat. 15:24 Jesus said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." This refers to the Jews who did not have imputed righteousness (were not saved at this time). He also spoke concerning the Gentiles whom He foreknew would be saved in John 10:16, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."
In the parable in Luke 15:3-7, Jesus refers to a shepherd as not being content until the last sheep is in the fold. Verse 7 lets us know that this lost sheep represents a sinner whom the shepherd was seeking. "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." (Luke 15:7)
Luke 19:10 says that is the reason Jesus came to this earth robed in flesh was, "to seek and to save that which was lost," lost sheep whom the Shepherd gathers. In John 4:4, the Bible states that Jesus, "must needs go through Samaria." He was seeking and gathering lost sheep, in this case a sinful woman who was found and saved by Jacob's well. In John 1:43, it is stated that Jesus, "findeth Philip." "Findeth" does not mean to happen upon by chance but refers to our Lord, Jehovah Raah having His sights on Philip, came upon him at the right place and the right time as He was seeking and gathering His sheep.
The Lord is my Shepherd, a caring God as He gathers. And like Naomi said of Boaz, who is a type of our Lord, in Ruth 3:18, "The man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day." Neither will our Shepherd rest till He finds and gathers His lost sheep. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6)
2. He Gives.
Not only does He gather but He also gives. By this I mean He provides and supplies all His sheep's needs. Isa. 40:11 states, "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd..." Psalm 23:1 says the sheep, "shall not want." In verse 5 He states that the Shepherd, "preparest a table before me (His sheep) in the presence of mine enemies." Also in verse 5 He "anointest my (sheep) head with oil; my (sheep) cup runneth over." "Anointed" means to be made fat and speaks of Divine favor or prosperity. "Runneth over" means satisfaction and indicates abundance, not just full, but running over. Jehovah Raah gives. He always provides and will never leave you to want. He provides milk (I Peter 2:2), meat (Heb. 5:14), and water (John 4:14), all of which is found in our Lord, Jehovah Raah.
3. He Guides.
Isa. 40:11c states the Shepherd, "shall gently lead those that are with young." Jehovah Raah knows the nature of His sheep and cares for every one of His sheep. He can not take the young and tender lambs along as fast as He can the old ram. The same principle is spoken of by Jacob as he tells Esau in Gen. 33:13-14 that he will not follow him at his pace because the children and young of the flock could not take it as fast as the men. Therefore, he said he would "lead on softly" as the children and young and tender of flocks can take it for he stated, "If men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die." This may be the reason it takes time for some to be saved, for the Shepherd knows that should He overdrive them at any time they would wilfully rebel and step out of light (truth, understanding and die without being saved). (Pro. 21:16)
Jehovah Raah leads to pastures of tender grass and beside waters of quietness. (Psa. 23:2) Also He leads in right paths (Psa. 23:3b), paths of righteousness which means having a right relationship with God and man. This requires right attitudes, actions, and reactions. Right paths are the "old paths" for which Jeremiah told Israel to ask. (Jer. 6:16) "Old paths" are the paths of the Lord's truths, not those of man's tradition. Our Shepherd guides and leads but does not drive nor overdrive.
4. He Guards.
Psa. 23:3a states, "He restoreth my soul." "Restoreth" means to bring back to former state or normal state by repairing or rebuilding. The tense reveals a continuous action which indicates the Shepherd is continuously working in His sheep's lives to restore them to their former condition which they had in Adam before he fell in the garden. This work began before we were even born and continuous in our lives all our days upon this earth (before we are saved and after) so as to conform us to His image. (Rom. 8:29) Thus Romans 8:28 is true. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." He is working all things together for ultimate good for His sheep. Therefore, our Shepherd is guarding and protecting His sheep as they go through life's journey.
He guards when we face death. Psa. 23:4a states, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me." We usually refer to this scripture when one has died. This is alright because "all scripture is profitable for doctrine" (II Tim. 3:16), but in context David is referring to his battle with Goliath where he was facing death. "Through" indicates he came out victorious. He did not fear although his life was in danger because he knew Jehovah Raah, the Shepherd who guards, was present with him. Since the Lord, who is the light of the world, was present, death just cast a shadow upon David. And he knew a shadow could not hurt him. A shadow of a car can not run over you. A shadow of a dog can not bite you. A shadow of a sword can not cut you. Neither can death hurt God's sheep, because when Jehovah Raah is present, He is guarding His sheep and all death can do is just cast a shadow. Remember He is always present. (Mat. 28:20)
He guards with His rod and staff. "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psa. 23:4b) His rod is used to club snakes and drive off the enemy. The staff is used to correct the sheep when disobedient and bring them back from wandering. The sight of those comforts the sheep because he knows he is being watched over and guarded.
Psa. 23:6a says, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Goodness and mercy are God's footmen which go with us day by day "all the days of my life." These footmen make the way smoother for us as we travel life's pathway. They do not begin following us when we are saved but they have been following all of God's sheep from the day they were conceived in their mother's womb. Thus God's sheep are guarded from conception. Jehovah Raah guards.
5. He Guarantees Delivery.
Psa. 23:6b states, "I (sheep) will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." "Dwell" means to be at home. Look at I Peter 1:3-5. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Note in verse 3 those "begotten again to a lively hope" which is "an inheritance reserved" (verse 4) and the saints also are preserved (verse 5) because they are kept or guarded. Jude refers to the saints (God's sheep) as being "preserved." (Jude 1) When Mom made preserves, she canned them and sealed them, but sometimes the seal on her preserves came loose. Not so with those Jehovah Raah seals, because He guarantees delivery, spirit, soul, and body of all His sheep to heaven because He is Jehovah Raah.
The Lord is my shepherd. This can be a known fact today that will take care of tomorrow's unknown future--"I shall not want." All because of Jehovah Raah.
THE PERSUADER - October-November, 1996